Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

This past cycle it was P+17. The one before that was P+18. During the P+18 cycle I had to go through the whole home pregnancy test (negative) and quantitative blood pregnancy test (which the doctor's office claim they never received the results of) rigamarole. Thanks to being on T3, I have been taking my BBT, which assured me that there was no way that I was pregnant this last cycle. But in my book, they both count as cruel and unusual punishment. If it were entirely up to me, post peak phases would be capped at 14 days if you weren't pregnant. And bleeding would have to start before noon. None of this checking all day, just to be devastated at bed time. And absolutely, positively no peek-a-boo spotting. (Is that pink? I think it's pink, but it might not be pink. Or  the come and go type of peek-a-boo spotting where you might see it once and expect it to get heavier and it instead goes AWOL.) 

We're coming up on 5 years of trying to conceive; I've been around this block more times than I care to count. Until these last couple of cycles, 14 days post peak has been normal when I've been on HCG. I'll admit to being tired and running out of patience. But if I'm not going to be pregnant, can I at least get on with the next cycle? IF is enough of a roller coaster without ridiculously long post peak phases.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Powerball Dream

The radio DJ talked about buying an NFL team; my cousin and her husband are dreaming of buying an island. 

I won't lie - there are a few things I would love to do for myself, like remodel the master bath, finish the basement, and make sure we have enough money to replace our cars. And I would love to donate enough to cover the cost of the atrium to connect our church to the parish hall (not to mention fix the HVAC system!), as well as help out Siamese Cat Rescue Center, from whence both our beloved Bilbo and Biscuit came. 

But my real Powerball dream? I want to start a foundation with multiple branches. The first and probably largest branch would be the Infertile Catholics Aid Society, which would be a foundation that any Catholic couple struggling to afford licit infertility treatment or adoption could apply to for a grant. In addition to the application, I would require a letter from the couple's pastor and from the treating physician, for medical grants. For adoption, I would require information about their adoption plans. Realistically, some kind of financial disclosure would be required, but I wouldn't want anyone to tear their hair out over it. The question would be whether to simply issue high-value grants or to require documentation of expenses from those awarded grants. If the funds were just issued as grants, there would probably need to be legal form indicating that there would be legal consequences for misuse of funds. At least a small staff would be required, but I would want the decisions made a board including a priest, doctor, and individuals who have experienced infertility. 

The second branch would build and run residential facilities for pregnant and parenting college students, like Mira Via. While I don't have any statistics, it's not hard to believe that college women would struggle with an unexpected pregnancy. In that situation it would be so easy to believe that carrying the baby to term would mean the end of one's education and career plans. A place to live, support, guidance, child care, and other help could mean the difference between choosing abortion and choosing life. I would love to have facilities in Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago... Really I would love to have one in every college town, but I'll start there. 

The purpose of the third and final branch would be education. Far too many women have no idea about their fertility. Based on the headlines and the pop culture news, you might think that you can have children into your 50s, or maybe even later in life. (Never mind that those women are using egg donors, which the headlines never mention.) I want women to make informed decisions about the best time to start a family. I want to encourage everyone to talk to their family about any family history of infertility. Husbandido and I made the decision about when to start trying to conceive not knowing about my family history; I though that we had enough time - and I knew more than many women. Age isn't everything, but it is important. I want women to be aware of the many different factors that can affect their fertility. 

What are your Powerball dreams?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Christmas Sermon that I Walked Out On, and The One I Spoke Up About

2012 was the last year my extended family on my mother's side gathered at Christmas. With two infant members of the family it was guaranteed to be rough. Let's face it: babies always steal the show. Despite it all, I wasn't doing too badly until Sunday morning. The retirement community my grandmother lives at has a rotating set of ministers that lead Sunday services. (Mom's side of the family is Methodist.) My mother thought everyone was going to Sunday services. My parents, Husbandido, and I arrived a little late but found seats, only to discover that none of the rest of the family was there. Not finding Grandma or any other family members there set me on edge, then the title of the sermon put me on red alert, since it was "All About a Baby." I calmed down a little during the singing and the readings, but when the minister opened with "I don't even know if I should be giving this; it should be a woman who has given birth..." (It doesn't help that he's a terrible preacher.) He then launched into birth tales shared by his sister who was a midwife, and honestly, I could only take so much. I let Husbandido know that I was heading up to Grandma's apartment to see if that's were everyone else was. But at his opening statement, before I left, I thought about standing up. If I had stood up, this is what I would have said.

"I have never given birth, never felt the joy at a baby growing and moving inside me, but even though my only begotten child never lived to see the light of day, I have something important to say about Christmas. Christmas is all about a baby. But Christmas isn't about just any baby. If all we wanted to do was celebrate the birth of a child, we could do that any day of the year. The birth of a child is certainly a miracle, but it is an everyday kind of miracle. Christmas is about so much more: Christmas is about the birth of a child the likes of whom the world had never seen. Jesus Christ, born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, is the only child born who is fully human and fully God. God - a tiny infant, helpless. A tiny child who through His life would free all people from sin, who would ransom us from death. A child who through His humanity would claim us as brothers and sisters, no longer slaves. As we celebrate the birth of that baby, we must also remember the purpose for which He came and the price that He paid."

In 2014 we were in Arizona for Christmas, and Husbandido and I attended Mass at Our Lady of Joy. If the homily had a title, it would have been "A Baby Changes Everything." The priest began by talking about how his niece and her husband had just had a baby and all the changes their lives were undergoing. He talked about them coming to visit all the family in Arizona and how the lives of the wider family were also changed by this baby. Eventually he brought it around to the birth of Jesus, and how His birth changed the world and how it is calling us to change. I have to admit that I wasn't paying quite as much attention as I could have been during that homily because I was bound and determined to talk to that priest after Mass. I was trying to figure out exactly what to say. When Mass was over, I steered Husbandido to the line to speak to the priest. When it was our turn to speak to him, I said "Father, it isn't just a baby that changes everything; the inability to have a baby changes everything, too. Would you please pray for all couples suffering from infertility and miscarriage?" 

One year I ran; two years later I spoke up. What changed? Certainly context, but also me. I can't say it hurt any less, but I can say that by God's grace, I was strengthened. I could speak up not just for me, but for all of us.